Networking. Beside the fact that it is one of the most over-used words of modern times, it is still important. If you're an extrovert, what could be better than the chance to dive in to a room full of people? To you, it's a target-rich environment. But if you're an introvert, and many of you are, networking is not your favorite thing and can feel like an obligation. You know you should do it and that it's an important way to grow your business and your career, but you'd rather clean the bathroom than go to an event with a bunch of people! So, if you are introverted, there are some things you can do to network effectively. Even veteran networkers can benefit from refresher tips.
I always encourage new Chamber members to have a plan and be realistic. Here are some great tips from the Chamber about how to network. You joined to grow your business so take advantage of the great events at the Chamber to do just that. Look out 3 to 6 months, identify the events that help you reach your goals and put them on your calendar. Sure, if you don't you might still decide to attend at the last minute when you receive a notice from the Chamber of an upcoming event, but your natural inclination will be to resist going. Having it on the calendar in advance is declaration on your part that you know this important and it increases the chance that you'll actually go.
Second, be realistic about the experience and what you want to get done. What's more intimidating to an introvert than walking into a room with 180 people, many of them strangers? Well, your job is not to meet all of those people. Rather, your goal is to have conversations with 2 to 3 new people. Do that every month and by the end of the year you have expanded your network by 35 to 50 new contacts.
There are all kinds of techniques you can deploy to make yourself comfortable in those settings. Here are some great suggestions in that regard.
Sometimes introverts kick themselves for being, well, deficient in some areas. Don’t do it. Being an introvert has some great advantages, says Marti Olsen Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World. But when it comes to things like networking, introverts need to have specific strategies and techniques.
See you at the next Chamber networking event. Put me in your group of 3 to 4 new people to meet and get acquainted with.